The Myth of the “Frightened Jew”

The Myth of the “Frightened Jew”

One of the popular myths that abound in missionary literature
describes the Jewish teachers quaking in “fear” when they encountered
the “proofs” to the alleged Messiah-ship of Jesus that are supposedly
found in the ancient texts of Jewish literature. According to the
missionaries, these Jewish teachers resorted to all types of nefarious
tactics in their “desperate” effort to “hide the truth” from their
naïve and trusting audiences.

Typical of this category of missionary mythology is the claim that the
rabbis altered the very text of the Bible in their effort to counter
the claims of the Church. The great commentator of Judaism, Rashi
(Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki of 11^th century France) is accused of
slanting his commentary on the Bible so that his Jewish readership
will not learn of the arguments that would support Christian claims.
And Maimonides is charged with formulating his teachings in a way that
would preclude the doctrines of Christianity.

Let us step back and analyze this accusation against the teachers of
Judaism. The Christian charge is that these rabbis saw these proofs to
the claims of the Church in the sacred texts of Judaism and they
distorted the intention of these texts in their teachings in order to
prevent their disciples from being persuaded by these so-called proofs.

This charge is demonstrably false. The only Christianity that existed
in the days of Rashi, Maimonides was a Christianity that believed in
replacement theology. For centuries upon centuries the various
Churches taught that the Jewish nation’s positive place in God’s plan
was replaced by the community of believers in Jesus and that the Law
of Moses was replaced by the teachings of Jesus. It is only in the
relatively recent past that some denominations of Christianity have
reconsidered one or both of these erroneous positions. But as far as
our teachers from the distant past (such as Rashi and Maimonides) were
concerned, the only Jesus that existed was one that came along with a
rejection of Israel as God’s nation and a repudiation of the Law of Moses.

The clarity that the Scriptures give us on these two subjects is
overwhelming and irrefutable. The following Scriptures speak of the
eternal election of Israel and of the centrality of that election to
God’s plan:

Genesis 12:2,7; 13:14,15; 15:5,7,18; 17:7-14; 18:18; 22;17,18; 25:23;
26:3-5; 28:13,14; 35:12; 48:4,16,20; 49:10; 50:24; Exodus 2:24;
3:8,17; 4:22; 6:4,7,8; 15:16,17; 19:5,6; 24:8; 29:45,46; 31;12-17;
33:1,16; 34:10,27; Leviticus 11;45; 20:24,26; 22:33; 26:44,45; Numbers
15:41; 22:12; 23:21; 24:9; 33:53; 35:34; Deuteronomy 1:8;
4:7,20,31-39; 6:10,18; 7:6-8; 8:1; 9:5,26,29; 10:11,15; 11:31; 14:1,2;
21:8; 23:6; 26:15-19; 27:9; 29:11-14; 32:9-12; 33:28,29; Joshua 1:6;
5:6; 21:41; 1Samuel 12:22; 2Samuel 7:23,24; 1Kings 8:13,51-53; 9:3;
10:9; 11:36; Jeremiah 2:2,3; 10:16; 12:14; 14:9; 31:2,8,34-36;
32:37-41; 33:19-26; 46:27,28; 50:20,33,34; 51:5; Ezekiel 11:16; 16:60;
37:20-28; Isaiah 41:8-16; 43:1-21; 44:1-8,21-23; 45:4,14-17; 46:3,4;
49:14-16; 51:7,15,16,22-52:12; 54:10; 55:5; 59:21; 60:1-22; 61:6,9;
62:1-12; Hosea 2:1,21,22; Joel 4:17,20,21; Zephaniah 3:20; Haggai 2:5;
Zechariah 2:12; 8:20-23; Malachi 1:2; Psalms 28:9; 29:11; 33:12;
44:18; 47:4,5; 48:9,15; 50:7; 68:35,36; 74:2; 78:5,69; 79:13; 89:16;
94:14; 95:7; 98:1-3; 100:3; 105:8-45; 111:4-9; 114:2; 125:2;
132:13-18; 133:3; 135:4; 144:15; 147:19,20; 148:14; 149:2,4; Nehemiah
1:10; 9:7,8; 1Chronicles 15:2; 16:15-22; 17:21,22,24; 23:13,25;
2Chronicles 6:6; 7:16; 9:8; 20:7.

The following scriptural passages speak of the importance of the Law.
Some of these passages teach us that the Law is relevant for all
generations, into and including the Messianic age. Other passages
confirm that the Law is beautiful, holy, life-giving and central to
our relationship with God. Some of these passages refer to the
totality of the Law while others focus on a specific subset within the
larger framework of the Law.

Genesis 2:3; 17:7-13; Exodus 12:14,17,24,42; 13:10; 19:9; 27:21;
29:28,42; 30:8,10,21; 31:12-17; Leviticus 3:14; 6:11,15; 7:34,36;
10:9,15; 16:29,31,34; 17:7; 18:5; 23:14,21,31,41,43; 24:3,9; Numbers
15:15,21,23,38; 18:8,11,19; 19:10; 25:13; 35:29, Deuteronomy 4:2,6;
5:3; 6:18,24,25; 7:11-16; 8:1; 10:12,13; 11:1,9,13-25,27; 12:28;
13:1,18,19; 15:4,5; 16:20; 18:5; 25:15; 28:1-14; 29:8; 30:1-20; 31:21;
33:4,10;, Joshua 1:7,8; 23:6; Judges 5:31; 1kings 2:3; 8:23; Jeremiah
31:32; Ezekiel 36:27; 37:24; 44:23,24; Psalms 19:8-11; 111:7,8;
119:1-176; Malachi 3;22; Esther 9:28; Nehemiah 9:13,14.

Whoever wrote the Jewish Bible wanted to make these two points
abundantly clear; that Israel is forever God’s elect and that the Law
of Moses is eternally relevant. The Author emphasized these two
teachings, repeatedly and with force. He used every literary tool in
His arsenal to bring these lessons to our heart.

If we combine all of the arguments that the Church uses in its effort
to substantiate her claims on the basis of the Jewish Bible we will
find that they do not come close to the evidence that the same Bible
supplies to inform us that God’s choices of Israel and the Law of
Moses are irrevocable. Even according to the mistranslations and
misinterpretations of the Churchmen, the Jewish Bible doesn’t provide
anywhere near this level of support for the teachings of Christianity.
Even if a Jew would not see through the hollow arguments of the
missionary, the Jew could never come to the conclusion that the God of
the Bible encourages faith in Jesus.

As long as the Church was teaching replacement theology there was no
way that a missionary could persuade a Jew that the Bible supported
faith in Jesus. Rashi and Maimonides as well as every teacher who only
knew of a Jesus that rejected Israel and the Law of Moses never had a
personal need to refute Christian arguments. The Bible itself
repudiated Jesus in the strongest terms.

Yes, Rashi did respond to Christian arguments in his commentary to the
Bible, but this was not because he had any personal “fear” from the
arguments of Christianity. Rashi supplies his readers with responses
to Christian arguments because the Christian culture forced Jews to
respond to their specific “proof-texts,” be it in the setting of
formal debates or in the setting of private conversations between
Christians and Jews. But as far as Rashi’s personal faith in God was
concerned and as far as the Jews of his generation were concerned, the
arguments of the Church did not deserve any responses. Because the
only Jesus that existed in Rashi’s day was a Jesus that hated the
nation that God loved and rejected the eternal teachings of Moses.

The fact is that even now that many denominations of Christianity are
reconsidering their position on the election of Israel and on the
eternal relevance of the Law of Moses, the faith of a Jew is not
challenged by the missionary arguments. The overall message of the
Bible still repudiates the devotion and worship of Jesus that the
Church is promoting. This repudiation of faith in Jesus is spelled out
with such force and clarity that all of the missionary “proof-texts”
together do nothing to undermine the strength of this repudiation.

However, I do not know if I can expect a Christian to appreciate this
fact. Christians that are used to seeing the Jewish Bible as
supportive of their faith have a difficult time seeing the same Bible
from a Jewish perspective. But now that they have come around on the
issue of replacement theology I expect that they recognize the force
with which the Author of the Bible repudiates that error. And if they
recognize the power of the Bible’s support for the election of Israel
and for the Law of Moses I expect them to appreciate why Rashi and
Maimonides and all the Jews of their generation had nothing to “fear”
from the Christian arguments.

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26 Responses to The Myth of the “Frightened Jew”

  1. Annelise says:

    It also follows that if the Jews who lived during all those centuries couldn’t accept Christianity due to the clear errors that were taught by the Catholic and Orthodox churches…then how could Jesus have been the Jewish messiah, if for so many centuries the Torah-upholding Jews couldn’t accept the version of him that was presented to them? It seems unlikely that the messiah would really be presented to the Jewish nation in this way, for generations.

  2. Sharon S says:

    Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

    Good day.
    If you don’t mind I have some questions as follows:

    1. What is the purpose of Israel’s election?
    2. What is G-d’s plan ? Is this plan for Israel only or for the world?
    3. How is Israel’s election central to G-d’s plan?
    4. If it weren’t for the Church or missionary activity, would the you come out with this article and scriptures to emphasise on Israel’s election and the importance of the law ?
    5. From the Jewish perspective , is it necessary or relevant for the non Jew to learn (1) to (3)?
    6. If the answer in (5) is a yes ,why ?What positive lessons can a non Jew learn from this ?

    Appreciate your feedback. Thank you.

    • Sharon S
      To answer your questions
      1 – Just as God chose a priesthood within Israel – in that same way, God chose a nation of priests amongst the family of mankind. This nation’s role is to serve God in a more direct way and in this way teaching the nations about God.
      2 – God’s plan is for the benefit of all mankind – Isaiah 56:7
      3 – God uses Israel to bring about His cosmic plan for all mankind – Psalm 102:16-18
      4 – Most Jews know very little about the Church’s missionary activity, yet the Scriptural concepts of Israel’s election and the centrality of the Law of Moses are very important to them, these are the central focus of their lives.
      5 – It is relevant for the non-Jew to know about Israel’s election.
      6 – The non-Jew benefits from knowing the truth of Israel’s election by learning through this knowledge about God’s interaction with mankind in general. Furthermore, by knowing about Israel’s election and her Divine destiny the non-Jew can participate in God’s cosmic plan. A non-Jew who is aware of Israel’s election will support any movement that brings Israel closer to her destiny and oppose those movements that threaten to move Israel away from her destiny.

      • Bible819 says:

        Gods intention was to save the World.

        Isaiah 26:18

        We were pregnant, we writhed in pain, we gave birth to wind. We have brought no salvation to the earth, nor brought any life into the world.

        Isaiah 53:10

        He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

        An exchange for bearing of sins for future offspring.

        As Yeshua said:

        “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned

        • Bible819, i think that your quotated verses are not clearly relavant to the reason of God’s election of Israel. I recommend Genesis 12;1-3, 18:18,19, Exodus 19:5, Leviticus 20:26. To make her His treasure, His own, Priestly nation… Priests don’t go out to Korea and offer sacrifice for atonement for Korean people. Koreans must come to Israel and bless her to be blessed by God!

          Don’t make God of Israel a god who uses his people and throws away when used up. The critical missiological misinterpretation of church on Genesis 12:3 is “all the families of the earth will be blessed THROUGH you” as if Abraham and his seed is just a tool or channel to bless (“save” in your term) the nations. The literal meaning is “IN you” It means IN ISRAEL, IN CHRIST, there is salvation, treasure, and blessing. That is what the 66 books of the Bible teaches.

          Would you bless and raise your first son to love him or to use him? Would your first son obey your command without receiving love from you? Love comes first, ministry is second.

          Lastly Isaiah 26:18 seems to have nothing to do with Israel’s gentile mission. Rather their yearning for the restoration of the land (earth) Israel.

          By the way, Anyone knows the correct translation of the last part of Isaiah 26;18?

          • Bible819 says:

            Gean,

            Can God use the disobedience of Israel to save the world through 1 Jew?
            Genesis 50:12

            Can disobedience destroy election?
            No, but it can save the world.

            Isaiah states (715 to 686 BCE)

            Disobedience

            We were with child, we writhed in labor,
            but we gave birth to wind.
            We have not brought salvation to the earth,
            and the people of the world have not come to life

            Gean Be careful of your major revelations through translations:

            After the king burned the scroll containing the words that Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 28“Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up.

            Your new insight would be (God Given) world wide to those who have the Spirit of God.

      • “A non Jew who is aware of Israel’s election will support any movement that brings Israel closer to her destiny and oppose those movements that threaten to move Israel away from her destiny ” I am thankful to be elected as one of those non- Jews.

      • Sharon S says:

        Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

        Good day. If you don’t mind , I have some further queries to the above reply.

        On point (1) -In my opinion , Israel’s election has its background in Genesis. There must be a greater purpose behind this in which the ultimate aim is to bless the world (Genesis 22:18) . Abraham , your ancestor chose to leave idolatry and to follow the one true G-d. According to Rabbinic tradition , he called many people to abandon idolatry during his lifetime . That is why G-d created the Jewish nation from him , as he will direct his children and descendants by “doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:19).

        In addition the prophets , especially Isaiah declares Israel to be G-d’s witnesses . There are quite a number of verses which states that Israel is to play a more universal role (Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 43:10,Isaiah 45:14, Isaiah 49:6,Isaiah 52:11,Isaiah 60:3, Zechariah 9:23) consistent with G-d who is the Creator of all .

        Appreciate if you can elaborate on point 2 further as the verse that you quoted in support is only pertaining to promises to foreigners who bind themselves to G-d and to minister to Him. In my opinion it does not answer my question.

        Don’t mind my saying this. It seems from point no (6) that your answer is too Israel-centric. If this is indeed the message of the Jewish Scriptures , does this mean that the G-d of Israel is to be regarded as a tribal deity only?

        Please let me know if my questions offend Jewish sensibilities or is offensive in general. If it offends , I apologize.

        In addition , please correct me if I mischaracterize or misunderstood your replies. My English is not that good.

        Thank you.

        • Dina says:

          Sharon, your English is excellent! I don’t speak any second language as well as you speak English, just moderately fluent in Hebrew (and a smattering of French).

  3. Dina says:

    Indeed!

  4. A point of order about ‘replacement’ theology. All Christians believe the Levitical priesthood has been replaced by the Messiah’s and the Sinaitic covenant superseded by the New, perhaps the majority of older Protestants (including for example both Wesleys) and the young church also recognise the perpetuity of the Abrahamic covenant, the land promise to Israel not the Gentiles and look for a glorious future for Jacob’s literal seed.

    I have a simple question for the rabbinic Jews here who reject the Davidic Messiah, for any modern claimant cannot prove his heritage either from the scriptures or existing genealogies.

    The restoration to the land is a key hallmark of spiritual restoration, and many scriptures attest to this some after repentance others (like Ezek.36.24-5 or 11.17-19 or 34.11-23) before. Why then did Christian Gentiles and Messianic Jews play such a seminal role in this return, by prayer, by sacrifice and by political action many decades before and after Herzl? Often this was in the teeth of opposition, sometimes virulent, by those who call themselves orthodox, but whose very doctrines are are opposed to Moses and founded in idolatry and paganism. Doctrines that led to the exile in the first place, though they have worsened since.*

    Is this not what Ezekiel also described in a day shortly to come to pass,
    ‘And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword.’ Eze 39:23

    *At least the Pharisees of those days acknowledged the Son of God, Daniel’s Son of Man (Dan.7.13, Mark 14.61), modern rabbinics futilely resist their own dear King, following Rambam’s folly.

  5. Charles Soper
    A few points
    1 – If they believe the Levitical priesthood is replaced – then how could they claim loyalty to the Jewish Bible?
    2 – If they believe the Law of Moses replaced – the same question applies. The Torah is absolutely clear on these subjects.
    3 – It is the Christians who reject the Davidic Messiah – they accept one who they admit was not a descendant of David on his father’s side – and your argument about “proving his heritage” is a joke as Jim so clearly laid out – https://judaismresources.net/2019/02/07/the-lost-genealogies-by-jim/
    4 – The restoration of the land was an activity of Orthodox Jews since we were exiled from it – They did it with love and with great self-sacrifice. Who loved the land for all these centuries? who yearned for it? Who came from all over the diaspora to settle the land at the risk of their lives? Who supported the “yishuv” (settlement) with the pennies that they needed for bread?
    5 – There was never opposition to settling the land – the opposition was to the secular, anti-religious nature of the Zionist movement.

    • Thank you again for your courtesy in publishing my post.

      1 It is impossible to be loyal to the Tenach without recognising the Levitical priesthood in and of itself is defective, inefficacious and inadequate, as Jacob foresaw (Gen.49.5-6). There are many indications of this, the sign of barring from the Land of promise of both Moses and Aaron for their own sin before death (Deut.3.24-6) for example. This does not mean the Cohens and Levites have no perpetual and distinctive privilege (Jer.33.21-2) – they most certainly do, but it illustrates, is subsumed in and based upon the blessing of more confident access in the Messiah, foreseen for example by the Davidic King-Priest, the Branch of Zechariah (Zech.3.1-3,8,6.11-13 cf. Jer.23.5,33.15), Minister of the New efficacious Covenant (Mal.3.1), of which there was only a brief foretaste before, even in best days of Hezekiah,Josiah and Ezra. He has certainly been life from the dead for this sinful and corrupt former atheist from an unbelieving family. Nothing else could drive me to openly and cheerfully preach those shattered commandments, and of repentance and remission in town centres, and see lives of all hues greatly changed, but His love of HaShem.

      2 It’s a big mistake to conflate the covenant administration with the Law itself, Jeremiah and Moses especially carefully distinguish them. The covenant at Sinai was broken (Jer.31.32, Deut.28.68). A new and more effective means of administration of the Law is necessitated (Ezek.16.60-2). The administration of the Law in the new Covenant is principally distinguished by love and obedience, denoted by circumcision of the heart. Real Christians have shown this, sometimes they have desperately failed.

      3. Jim’s lengthy polemic boils down to a single fallacious assertion, which I contested then. I am surprised in this forum that it again needs spelling out. To claim that a true genealogy is not an essential element of validation for a priest or a Davidic king flies in the face of the Word (positively Ezra 7.1-5, 1 Chr.2.3-15, 3.9-19, negatively Neh.7.64, Ez.2.62). As we Brits know a failure to prove descent is wholly fatal to a proper claim to the throne. Do you really claim a future discovery in some cleft in the foundations of the Temple of a genealogy record including a 1st century Joseph, son of Jacob, son of Matthan, son of Eleazar, which ostensibly falsified Yeshua’s earlier Davidic descent would not be regarded as highly significant by all the world? It was an easy way to discredit Him, but the Gospel writers glory in it.

      4 & 5 I do apologise for neglecting the Yishuv and their sacrificial devotion, that was unjust, but there was Orthodox opposition to return to Israel in the UK and Europe, before the Messiah comes, and still is today, as you know. I think this is a tremendous and dangerous mistake, in an increasingly hateful world, just as it was in the Shoah, despite the many flaws of the Israeli government, its judiciary and its supporters of all colours. There was and is also strong opposition to Hebrew being revived as a spoken language, as you also know. Political organisation and the apparatus of statehood, which has saved and materially benefited 100,000s if not millions of Jewish and Gentiles lives, though came through Zionism, religious and secular, Jewish and Christian. Curiously as Anita Shapira acknowledges Christian advocacy long preceded Jewish activism.

      • charles soper
        I find it hard to believe that you sum up Jim’s argument in his article – https://judaismresources.net/2019/02/07/the-lost-genealogies-by-jim/
        With this pathetic sentence – To claim that a true genealogy is not an essential element of validation for a priest or a Davidic king

        I encourage all readers to read Jim’s article and Charles summary of his article – you will get a good idea of how charles reads the Jewish Bible

        • So do you affirm or reject Jim’s fallacy?

          • Charles Soper You missed the point of Jim’s article in the very same way that you miss the point of the Jewish Bible. What you claim that Jim wrote – Jim did not write. 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Jim asserted a/the genealogical claims of the New Testament are inaccurate b/ they are not important for validation of the Messiah c/ actually when the ‘future’ Messiah comes prophecy may fill the gap.
            Do you support or reject the second claim? Yes or no?

            If you prevaricate a third time, it will be manifest to all readers.

            Whilst not the only means of validation, a Davidic genealogy is essential, see proofs above, not least because unearthing accurate records of an inadequate genealogy would completely discredit a candidate, and this was likely when the second Temple still stood.

          • Dina says:

            Charles, the accusation of prevarication is serious. You are accusing whomever you are addressing in this post–Rabbi B., I assume–of deliberately posting false and/or misleading information. Now you warn him that if he does it a third time it will be evident to everyone.

            Rabbi B. is one of the most honest people I’ve ever met. It will not be obvious to me at all, because he didn’t lie previously, as you claim.

            If someone disagrees with you, that doesn’t mean they are lying.

            This is an ugly tactic. If you have any shame at all, you will either apologize or establish beyond a shadow of a doubt that Rabbi. B. actually lied.

          • Dina Nothing to get excited about – Charles is just showing us how Christians process information. 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Charles Soper You missed the main point of Jim’s article – but let’s put that aside for now – let’s talk about your “question.”

            How on earth did you misconstrue Jim to be saying that Davidic genealogy is not essential? What Jim is saying is that a true prophet can verify Davidic genealogy without resorting to physical records.

            Now let’s get back to the main point of Jim’s article. How would one go about verifying a virgin birth? How would one go about verifying the credentials of the authors of the Christian Scriptures? How would one go about verifying that Jesus never sinned? – The main point of Jim’s article is that a Christian “demanding” verification is a ludicrous exercise in hypocrisy.

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Prevarication is not the same as deceit.

            Nevertheless the question has not been answered.

          • Dina says:

            To prevaricate means to mislead with false information. I doubt it means something much different in British English.

            Maybe you meant to use a different word, like waffle?

          • Bible819 says:

            yourphariseefriend,

            Judaism:

            Abraham talked to God in a dream?
            Abraham had a son at a 100 years old?
            Moses talked to an invisible God on a mountain in the middle of a Desert?
            Jacob wrestled with God?

            Yet Christian believe all of this.

            As Yeshua said,

            Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

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